U.S. Attorney's Office
Southern District of Georgia
(912) 652-4422
July 2, 2015

Ring Leaders Plead Guilty in $20 Million WIC and Food Stamp Fraud Conspiracy

SAVANNAH, GA—Brandon and Kimberly Sapp, husband and wife from Atlanta, Georgia, pled guilty last week before United States District Judge William T. Moore, Jr. to running a criminal organization that defrauded the WIC and Food Stamp programs of approximately $20 million. The Sappsinitially exercised their rights to a jury trial. However, after two days of testimony, they changed their pleas to guilty and the jury was dismissed. The Sapps are currently awaiting sentencing.

In June of 2014, The Sapps were indicted along with 86 other defendants in one of the largest WIC and Food-Stamp frauds ever prosecuted in the United States. To date, all 88 defendants have pled guilty.

Georgia’s Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC) provides healthy foods to low-income pregnant and postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age 5 who are nutritionally at risk. Participants in the WIC program receive 3-month supplies of WIC vouchers, which they can exchange at authorized stores for the healthy foods listed on the vouchers. The Food Stamp program, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), provides “Food Stamp” benefits to low-income families through Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards, which are similar to debit cards. It is unlawful to exchange WIC or Food Stamp benefits for cash. Both the WIC and Food Stamp programs are administered through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and paid for by federal tax dollars.

According to evidence presented during the trial and numerous guilty plea hearings, the Sapps conspired with numerous others to open 14 phony grocery stores in Savannah, Macon, Atlanta, Garden City, Lithonia, LaGrange, Stone Mountain, Riverdale, and elsewhere for the purpose of buying WIC and Food Stamp benefits for cash. Once the stores were opened and stocked with enough prop foods to pass WIC and SNAP inspections, many of the defendants canvassed low-income neighborhoods and solicited WIC and Food Stamp participants to illegally exchange their benefits not for food, but for cash. The defendants purchased the WIC and Food Stamp benefits for cash at a fraction of the amount they received from the USDA by redeeming the benefits they had purchased. Typically, the conspirators would buy Food-Stamp benefits from participants for 50 cents on the dollar. The conspirators would buy WIC vouchers for even less, sometimes as low as 15 cents on the dollar.

54 defendants, including the Sapps, were charged together for their roles in organizing, running and operating the phony grocery stores set up throughout the state. The Sapps created a sophisticated criminal enterprise, which included district managers, who were in charge of getting cash to the stores each day for the purpose of buying WIC vouchers and Food Stamp benefits; store managers, who were in charge of taking orders and making sure enough prop foods stayed in the stores to pass inspections; and, drivers, who would take cash to WIC and Food Stamp participants in exchange for their benefits. During the course of the conspiracy, which lasted over two years, the criminal enterprise received over $30,000 each day in fraudulently obtained money from the USDA. The Sapps, who paid their coconspirators in weekly salary checks, were the beneficiaries of a large portion of the ill-gotten gains. They bought expensive cars, rang up over $1 million in credit card charges, withdrew over $3 million in cash from various accounts, and brazenly set up a record label named “We In Control,” the acronym of which is WIC. A listing of the 54 defendants convicted for their roles in the Sapps’ criminal enterprise is attached.

In addition to those responsible for owning or operating the phony grocery stores across the State, 34 recipients residing in the Southern District of Georgia who sold their WIC and Food Stamp benefits for cash to the Sapps’ organization were also charged. The number of recipients charged represents a small fraction of those who sold their food-program benefits for cash to the Sapps’ organization. Indeed, the number of WIC recipients whose vouchers were fraudulently purchased by the Sapp conspiracy exceeded 45,000. A significant percentage of the 45,000 individual WIC recipients were the children whose parents or guardians that chose 15 cents on the dollar over healthy foods for their children. Each of the 34 WIC and Food-Stamp recipients indicted either had a significant criminal history and/or traded significant amounts of food-program benefits. Each of the 34 recipient-defendants pled guilty to stealing from the United States. A listing of these defendants is attached.

United States Attorney Edward Tarver said, “This prosecution, one of the largest federal food programs fraud prosecutions in history, was a complete success. Within one year, all of the 88 defendants charged have been convicted. Justice was swift and those convicted have been held accountable for stealing millions of dollars in federal tax dollars intended to feed the most needy families and children in our state. No matter how complex the scheme to steal tax payer dollars, this United States Attorney’s Office and its law enforcement partners will work tirelessly to bring those responsible to justice.”

Karen Citizen-Wilcox, Special Agent-in-Charge, USDA-OIG-Investigations, stated, “The USDA-OIG conducts hundreds of investigations nationwide on a yearly basis regarding EBT fraud. In 2010, we became aware of a large number of Georgia WIC vendors redeeming tremendous dollar amounts from the alleged sale of WIC items. These small establishments were, on average, redeeming more in WIC sales than chain stores such as Kroger and Wal-Mart. From 2010 through the present, USDA-OIG conducted 16 separate WIC investigations, primarily in the Southern District of Georgia, with the assistance of DOJ, the Georgia Department of Public Health, and other federal and state law enforcement agencies. One of those investigations determined that a criminal organization, led by Brandon and Kimberly Sapp, operated phony grocery stores across the State for the sole purpose of defrauding the WIC and EBT programs. The investigation of the Sapps netted the largest WIC fraud in the history of USDA. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Georgia, in a bold and unprecedented move, indicted 88 individuals, including 34 WIC and EBT recipients, for their roles in the criminal enterprise. The Sapp prosecution netted a perfect score for the taxpayers, with all 88 defendants pleading guilty to various charges. So far, the total restitution ordered in the Sapp investigation stands at $61,249,279. Brandon and Kimberly Sapp will be sentenced later this summer to what surely will sit as the steepest number of years in prison. By indicting and convicting WIC and EBT recipients, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has set a new precedent that basically says, ‘You will suffer the same consequences for selling benefits as those who purchase those benefits.’ It is with much gratitude that we applaud and commend DOJ and all of our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners in this joint effort.”

“Fraud of any kind against WIC will not be tolerated, and offenders will be prosecuted and convicted,” said Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. “I applaud the U.S. Department of Justice, all of our federal and state partners, and our own Inspector General’s office for taking action to send a strong message to those who plan to defraud American taxpayers and harm a program that many Georgians rely on to provide high quality, nutritious food for their children and families.”

J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated: “The Sapps’ convictions mark the conclusion of a lengthy and complex fraud investigation whose subjects were targeting federal government programs intended for those in need. These defendants, working together to illegally profit from federal food based assistance programs, showed a complete disregard for those who were truly in need. The FBI is pleased with the role that it played in ensuring that these individuals are being held accountable for their greed based criminal conduct.”

The investigation of this case was led by Special Agents with the United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General; Investigators with the Georgia Department of Health and Human Services and Georgia Department of Public Health, Office of Inspector General; and forensic auditors with the United States Attorney’s Office and the FBI. Assistant United States Attorney E. Greg Gilluly, First Assistant United States Attorney, James D. Durham and, both with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia, prosecuted the cases for the United States.

Defendants Convicted in 54-Defendant Indictment

Brandon Sapp, a/k/a “B,” 38, Austell, Georgia, awaiting sentencing.

Kimberly Sapp, a/k/a “The Money Wizard,” 35, Austell, Georgia, awaiting sentencing.

Calvin Williams, a/k/a “Slick,” 40, Atlanta, Georgia; sentenced to 78 months in prison and ordered to pay $1,529,951.04 in restitution.

Isaac Martin, a/k/a “Ike,” 38, Jonesboro, Georgia; sentenced to 48 months in prison and ordered to pay $1,169,962.56 in restitution.

John P. Jones, a/k/a “JP,” 40, Ellenwood, Georgia; sentenced to 46 months in prison and ordered to pay $1,079,965.44 in restitution.

Wayne Jackson, a/k/a “J5,” 33, Atlanta, Georgia; sentenced to 54 months in prison and ordered to pay $1,124,964.00 in restitution.

Gregory Thomas, a/k/a “Rich Gregg,” 38, Atlanta, Georgia; sentenced to 48 months in prison and ordered to pay $1,402,465.31 in restitution.

Kerry Adams, a/k/a “Big Skreed,” a/k/a “Scrump,” 39, Atlanta, Georgia; sentenced to 60 months in prison and ordered to pay $1,402,465.31 in restitution.

Brian Lockhart, a/k/a “Lock,” 48, Atlanta, Georgia; sentenced to 40 months in prison and ordered to pay $989,968.32 in restitution.

Henry Ward, a/k/a “Tye,” 33, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to 60 months in prison and ordered to pay $1,259,959.68 in restitution.

Vincent Harper, 41, Atlanta, Georgia; sentenced to 36 months in prison and ordered to pay $1,304,598.24 in restitution.

Ostrando S. Brock, a/k/a “Shawn,” 33, Mableton, Georgia; sentenced to 38 months in prison and ordered to pay $1,214,961.12 in restitution.

Jesse McCoy, a/k/a “Jay Mac,” 43, Ellenwood, Georgia; sentenced to 36 months in prison and ordered to pay $944,969.76 in restitution.

Terence Cosby, a/k/a “Me Gold,” 34, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to 30 months in prison and order to pay $1,124,959.68 in restitution.

Raymond Hargrove, 28, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to 48 months in prison and ordered to pay $1,484,952.48 in restitution.

Jacqueline Beauchamp, a/k/a “Jackie,” 26, Pooler, Georgia; sentenced to 40 months in prison and ordered to pay $989,968.32 in restitution.

Elizabeth Beauchamp, 29, Pooler, Georgia; sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $404,987.04 in restitution.

Gerald Patilla, a/k/a “PT,” 31, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to 36 months in prison and ordered to pay $989,968.32 in restitution.

Clayton Talley, 32, Pooler, Georgia; sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $224,992.80 in restitution.

Ebony Jacobs, 28, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $359,988.48 in restitution.

Olajawon Simmons, a/k/a “Wan,” a/k/a “Won,” 28, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to 40 months in prison and ordered to pay $629,979.84 in restitution.

Reginald Simmons, a/k/a “Reggie,” 29, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $764,975.52 in restitution.

Gary Grier, a/k/a “Bundee,” a/k/a “Dee,” 38, Atlanta, Georgia; sentenced to 34 months in prison and ordered to pay $1,124,964.00 in restitution.

Magregor Warner, a/k/a “KB,” 41, Atlanta, Georgia; sentenced to 40 months in prison and ordered to pay $1,124,964.00 in restitution.

Benjamin Tookes, a/k/a “B,” a/k/a “Ben,” 41, Atlanta, Georgia; sentenced to 42 months in prison and ordered to pay $719,976.96 in restitution.

Carlos Davis, a/k/a “Lo,” 39, Atlanta, Georgia; sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $1,034,966.88 in restitution.

Raymond Hixon, a/k/a “Dre,” 39, Atlanta, Georgia; sentenced to 36 months in prison and ordered to pay $809,974.08 in restitution.

Thomas Thorton, a/k/a “Big Bo,” 28, Atlanta, Georgia; sentenced to 40 months in prison and ordered to pay $1,394,955.30 in restitution.

Branden Jordan, 33, Atlanta, Georgia; sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $130,489.71 in restitution.

Mark White, 39, Atlanta, Georgia; sentenced to 48 months in prison and ordered to pay $674,978.40 in restitution.

Tobias Render, a/k/a “Tee,” a/k/a “Toby,” 34, Atlanta, Georgia; sentenced to 36 months in prison and ordered to pay $764,975.52 in restitution.

Eric Burkes, a/k/a “E,” 26, Atlanta, Georgia, sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay $217,482.85 in restitution.

Aryay Strong, 32, Atlanta, Georgia; sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $179,994.24 in restitution.

Marshall Sears, 39, Atlanta, Georgia; sentenced to 42 months in prison and ordered to pay $1,349,956.80 in restitution.

Suleyma Arreola, 22, Marietta, Georgia; sentenced to 24 months in prison and ordered to pay $449,985.60 in restitution.

Emory White, 33, Marietta, Georgia; sentenced to 60 months in prison and ordered to pay $899,971.20 in restitution.

Obryan Moore, a/k/a “OB,” 30, Powder Springs, Georgia; sentenced to 46 in prison and ordered to pay $449,985.60 in restitution.

Terry Mitchell, Jr., 44, LaGrange, Georgia; sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $674,978.40 in restitution.

Corey Mitchell, a/k/a “Stick,” 40, Atlanta, Georgia; sentenced to 42 months in prison and ordered to pay $1,034,966.86 in restitution.

Luquoise Clay, a/k/a “Qui,” 31, Atlanta, Georgia; sentenced to four years of probation and ordered to pay $539,982.72 in restitution.

Jessica Cameron, a/k/a “Keta,” 31, Grantville, Georgia; sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay $539,982.72 in restitution.

Joshua Dunlap, 39, Monticello, Georgia; sentenced to 24 months in prison and ordered to pay $494,984.16 in restitution.

Maurice Fudge, a/k/a “Reese,” 40, Macon, Georgia; sentenced to 25 months in prison and ordered to pay $314,989.92 in restitution.

Quinton Matthews, a/k/a “Q,” a/k/a “Chuck Matthews,” 40, Macon, Georgia; sentenced to 24 months in prison and ordered to pay $629,979.84 in restitution.

Charles Jackson, a/k/a “Cooley Slim,” a/k/a “Corey,” 36 Lithia Springs, Georgia; sentenced to 42 months in prison and ordered to pay $539,982.72 in restitution.

Ronnie Zachary, a/k/a “City,” 30, Byron, Georgia; sentenced to 38 months in prison and ordered to pay $584,981.28 in restitution.

Porsha Drewery, a/k/a “Parsha,” 38, Macon, Georgia; sentenced to 38 months in prison and ordered to pay $1,619,948.10 in restitution.

Taquilla Johnson, a/k/a “Quilla,” 36, Macon, Georgia; sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $478,462.27 in restitution.

Raheem Waller, 30, Atlanta, Georgia; sentenced to 36 months in prison and ordered to pay $629,979.84 in restitution.

Travis Rich, 36, Atlanta, Georgia; sentenced to 48 months in prison and ordered to pay $1,259,959.68 in restitution.

Marlon Dobbins, 30, Atlanta, Georgia; sentenced to 36 months in prison and ordered to pay $1,079,965.44 in restitution.

Derrick Heard, a/k/a “Da Man,” a/k/a “Heard,” 44, Atlanta, Georgia; sentenced to 48 months in prison and ordered to pay $18,515,977.21 in restitution.

Roderick Turner, a/k/a “Rah Rah,” 37, Rockmart, Georgia; sentenced to 19 months in prison and ordered to pay $391,463.13 in restitution.

Antonio Dorsey, a/k/a “Bear,” 35, East Point, Georgia; awaiting sentencing.

List of Recipient-Defendants Charged in Separate Indictments

Chiquita Armstead, 41, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $3,008.71 in restitution.

Yontalay Bennett, 29, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $5,092.24 in restitution.

Precious T. Bevins, 25, Garden City, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $4,407.18 in restitution.

Shanika C. Blige, 23, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $7,336.95 in restitution.

Deanna W. Boles, 24, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $4,663.33 in restitution.

Candice Bostick, 24, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $1,353.15 in restitution.

Danitra Bostick, 27, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $2,060.71 in restitution.

Tia Bowers, 26, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $2,761.28 in restitution.

Tonya Clark, 42, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $6,963.34 in restitution.

Jocelyn Easterling, 49, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $10,233.97 in restitution.

Ebony Ellison, 28, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $5393.11 in restitution.

Deonka Ellison, 25, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $6,079.69 in restitution.

Joanne Ferguson, 43, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $7,027.83 in restitution.

Fanchon Hill, 27, Jesup, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $3,974.84 in restitution.

Shaquanna Hooper, 27, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $1,332.58 in restitution.

Tameshia N. Jackson, 25, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $3683.13 in restitution.

Koneshia N. Jenkins, 27, Pembroke, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $5,931.47 in restitution.

Latisha V. Jones, 31, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $6124.88 in restitution.

Jameise’ Mayberry, 24, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $10,460.00 in restitution.

Quinta Meggett-Mike, 38, Garden City, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $9,228.34 in restitution.

Ebony Roberson, 27, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $1,246.97 in restitution.

Shakeila D. Roberts, 23, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $2,215.98 in restitution.

Jasmine Sammuel, a/k/a “Jazmi Beasley,” a/k/a “Jazmi Smith,” 25, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $4,256,66 in restitution.

Deanna K. Scott, 25, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $1,991.76 in restitution.

Whitney Denise Stokes, 26, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $7174.01 in restitution.

Regina C. Styles, 22, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $2,261.13 in restitution.

Hope Taylor, 34, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $2,651.06 in restitution.

Ebonilaestei Tremble, 35, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to four years of probation and ordered to pay $27,458.95 in restitution.

Linda J. Walker, 23, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $2,596.64 in restitution.

Tiera L. Walthour, 24, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $4,063.37 in restitution.

Alexis Washington, 27, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $2,231.79 in restitution.

Rhonda Washington, 32, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $9,948.59 in restitution.

Amber Shaniqua Wilson, 24, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to 6 months in prison, 12 months of supervised release and ordered to pay $2817.30 in restitution.

Ke’Airra Young, 25, Savannah, Georgia; sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $14,039.35 in restitution.

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